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Greece expels Libyan ambassador over agreements with Turkey

December 7, 2019 at 1:16 pm

President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) shakes hands with the chairman of Presidential Council of Libya, Fayez Al-Sarraj (L) as they pose for a photo at Dolmabahce Office in Istanbul, Turkey on 27 November 2019 [Mustafa Kamacı/Anadolu Agency]

Greece has given Libya’s ambassador to Athens 72 hours to leave the country, in protest against agreements with Turkey, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias announced on Friday.

According to Anadolu Agency, Dendias confirmed that the decision indicated Greece’s dissatisfaction with Libya’s UN-recognised government in Tripoli, and was taken because of the country’s failure to comply with rules previously proclaimed by Greece on the issue.

Dendias also clarified that the decision did not mean Athens was breaking diplomatic ties with Libya.

On 27 November, Turkey and Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) signed a bilateral memorandum demarcating the countries’ exclusive economic zones in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The document reaffirmed the rights of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, to resources in the Eastern Mediterranean in the face of unilateral drilling by the Greek Cypriot administration.

The memorandum was signed by Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, following its passage in parliament, with the GNA also ratifying the deal later on Thursday.

READ: Greece ‘registers disagreement’ with Libya-Turkey maritime accord 

According to Anadolu Agency, Libya has announced that expelling the Libyan ambassador is “unacceptable”.

Speaking to Reuters, Libyan foreign minister, Mohamed Siyala, affirmed that his country would have reciprocated if Greece had diplomatic representation in the country.

He added: “It is Greece’s right to go to the International Court of Justice and to the legal channels to remove any confusion. But to take the stand of expelling the ambassador, summoning him and escalating the situation, this is unacceptable to the Libyan government.”

Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported that Siyala stressed that Libya has the right to sign agreements with whoever it wants, noting that Greece had procrastinated to agree with Libya regarding the demarcation of maritime borders since 2004.

Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, also condemned expelling the Libyan ambassador.

“Expelling an ambassador just because of the agreement that we signed is not a mature behaviour in diplomacy. This is outrageous,” Reuters reported Cavusoglu speaking to reporters in Rome.